The film is about divorce. Dustin Hoffman is married to Meryl Streep who walks out on him and their son. The rest of the film is him learning to be a single parent and the ups and downs that happens. Eventually Meryl Streep comes back after a year and wants custody of their son. This ensues into a nasty battle with lawyers and as expected, they award custody to the mother since it was assumed that a child is best raised by the mother.
Well acted and filmed, it comes at the end of the great decade of the 1970's that produced some of the finest films ever made. There are arguments that this may have not been the best picture, personally I felt that Apocalypse Now was much better and was ignored since The Deer Hunter won the year before. Still a good movie and the reason for blogging about it is the change it helped make in society.
Thankfully my parents never got divorced and I have never been through one either, so I have no personal reference. But I do remember when I was a kid that if there was a divorce, the mother would take custody of the children. Even though this was the norm, there were many times where the children would be better off with the father. But since it was always assumed that the child is best raised by the mother, the courts would rule this way.
This movie helped change people's minds. Granted they do make the situation rather black and white and not gray as it probably is in circumstances like this. But the old belief that only the mother would get custody changed and more and more fathers took custody of children after divorce. Like Gentleman's Agreement, this is a film that made a change to society and how we view it. For that it is an important movie to remember and watch.